Public Outreach


Community Involvement Plans (CIPs), Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs) and the Technical Assistance for Public Participation (TAPP) are different tools DoD may use to promote community engagement in the cleanup process and support DoD’s communication, outreach, and transparency. The local installation works with the community to determine the best options for public involvement including a RAB and TAPP. A brief overview of each is provided below.

Defense Environmental Restoration Program Public Involvement: Communications, Outreach, and Transparency

CIPs address how DoD will conduct outreach about cleanup activities and how the public can participate in decision-making throughout the cleanup process. Installations use their CIP to ensure the community is informed about and involved in the cleanup process. The CIP enables an installation to specify specific activities that address community needs, concerns, and expectations; serves as a site-specific strategy for the project team’s outreach activities during the cleanup process to inform and engage community members; educates the affected community about the cleanup program and processes; and provides resources to help the community understand and participate meaningfully in the cleanup process. CIPs provide a strategy to engage community members in the cleanup process and involve them in decisions that may affect their community. CIPs are an effective communications tool; enable outreach to a broad audience; facilitate DoD interactions and engagement with community members; educate the affected community about the cleanup program and processes, so that they can more effectively articulate their concerns and needs; show DoD’s commitment to community outreach and involvement; and promote trust and constructive dialogue.

A RAB facilitates and improves communication, outreach, and transparency between DoD, the public, regulators, local governments, and interest groups for issues related to cleanup activities. RABs offer a structured, focused, and interactive opportunity for stakeholders to participate in the cleanup process. Specifically, RABs engage in and support DoD’s cleanup efforts by reviewing and commenting on cleanup documents and activities; serving as a liaison to and sharing cleanup information with the community; and providing a forum to exchange information about the schedule, type, and status of cleanup activities.

The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy and Environment) is taking steps to improve communication and community relations through RABs, including:

  • Reviewing current RAB practices to identify best practices/lessons learned;
  • Developing tools and guidance to improve effectiveness of RAB meetings and promote more public participation;
  • Revising the DoD RAB Handbook to standardize RAB expectations and establish consistency in the quality and level of information DoD provides to the community;
  • Developing training for remedial project managers to improve and establish expectations for communication and community involvement in RABs; and
  • Assessing public feedback to identify mechanisms to improve communication to impacted communities.

The TAPP program provides communities with independent technical assistance to improve their understanding of the scientific and engineering issues underlying cleanup. RABs are a focused and interactive forum to exchange information about an installation’s cleanup activities to provide input to the installation decision makers. RAB members are often asked to comment on technical cleanup issues, but may not have cleanup knowledge or experience. TAPP provides community RAB members with technical assistance to interpret scientific or engineering issues related to the installation’s cleanup activities. TAPP can help community members better understand technical issues and options for remediation, and more effectively articulate their concerns and preferences during the decision-making process.

The Office of the DASD(EM&R) is looking at how to help facilitate the TAPP request and funding process, developing guidance and assistance in completing the application forms for request and tracking all TAPP requests at the OSD level.